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Temptation: Immediacy and Certainty
Last registered on September 16, 2019

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Temptation: Immediacy and Certainty
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0004651
Initial registration date
September 12, 2019
Last updated
September 16, 2019 2:03 PM EDT
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
UCSB
Other Primary Investigator(s)
Additional Trial Information
Status
In development
Start date
2019-09-15
End date
2019-10-04
Secondary IDs
Abstract
A choice is most tempting when it is both immediate and certain. Prevailing experimental measures of static present-bias rely on the random incentive scheme (RIS) to gather rich data from subjects. Recent studies show that RIS adds background risk to decisions, thereby increasing risk-taking behavior. Evidence has shown that the immediacy effect is significantly moderated (or even eliminated) by uncertainty. Thus estimates of the present-bias factor $\beta$ are possibly biased upward toward unity, underestimating present-bias intensity. I conduct a framed field experiment that determines whether uncertainty indeed diminishes the immediacy effect by using real-effort tasks to approximate immediate and certain utility flows. Subjects allocate tasks using convex time budgets under both RIS and certain implementation. I compare within-subject estimates of the quasi-hyperbolic present-bias factor under these two mechanisms, assuming convex effort costs. I type individuals as present- or future-biased under each mechanism, which provides data on the interaction between the immediacy and certainty effects within subjects. I also report how the introduction of uncertainty affects the present-bias parameter on average, which would be some of the first incentivized evidence of the effect of uncertainty on immediacy.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Reddinger, Lucas. 2019. "Temptation: Immediacy and Certainty." AEA RCT Registry. September 16. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.4651-1.0.
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2019-09-15
Intervention End Date
2019-10-04
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Primary outcomes of interest are the real-effort task allocations chosen by subjects between two weeks.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Subjects are asked to complete daily survey questions regarding their outside labor market participation which are used to help calibrate the structural model. Subjects are asked to complete an exit survey that includes portions of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Questionnaire which are used to look for relationships between time and risk preferences and included health survey responses. Subjects must complete an intake survey with demographic and socioeconomic survey questions in order to participate in treatments; these data will be used to predict attrition and may also be used as controls in prediction of primary results.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
Subjects are asked to allocate approximately 30 minutes of work between pairs of work days occurring over the course of two weeks. Subjects allocate work between Monday of Week 1 and Monday of week 2; subjects repeat this procedure for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

Decisions for Mondays are made on the first Monday. Decisions for Tuesdays are made on the first Tuesday. Decisions for Wednesdays are made both on Monday and Wednesday. Decisions for Thursdays are made on both Tuesday and Thursday.

Monday and Wednesday constitute Treatment A; Tuesday and Thursday constitute Treatment B. For each subject, one treatment is randomly assigned the RIS treatment, while the other treatment is randomly assigned the certainty treatment. Thus treatments are randomly ordered between subjects.

Both treatments offer five discount rates $R \in \{0.5, 0.75, 1, 1.25, 1.5\}$ at which subjects must allocate a present value of 360 tasks between the pair of days in question.

Subjects know that for the first day of the RIS treatment, one of their five decisions made on that same day will be implemented. Subjects also know that for the second day of the RIS treatment, one of their five decisions from that day or one of their five decisions from the previous day in that treatment will be implemented. Each decision is implemented with uniform probability.

Subjects know that for the first day of the certainty treatment, the decision corresponding to $R = 1.25$ will be implemented with certainty, while the decisions for the other four rates are merely hypothetical. Subjects also know that for the second day of the certainty treatment, the decision corresponding to $R = 1.25$ made on that same day will be implemented with certainty, while the allocations made for the other four rates on that day and the allocations made for all five rates on the previous day in that treatment are merely hypothetical.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization is done in advance using a computer program.
Randomization Unit
The two treatments are randomly ordered by subject. The decisions chosen for implementation are randomized in advance.
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
The pilot study will have 12 individual subjects; each subject is clustered. The full study will have 60 individual subjects; each subject is clustered.
Sample size: planned number of observations
The pilot study will have 12 individual subjects each making 30 task allocation decisions, yielding 360 observations. The full study will have 60 individual subjects each making 30 task allocation decisions, yielding 1800 observations.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
The two treatments are conducted within-subjects. Each treatment in the pilot study has 12 subjects/clusters and 360 observations. Each treatment in the full study has 60 subjects/clusters and 1800 observations.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
UCSB, Office of Research, Human Subjects Committee
IRB Approval Date
2019-08-30
IRB Approval Number
56-19-0621
Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
No
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers